Amazon has purchased a minority stake in Diamond Sports Group, which owns several regional sports networks, including Bally Sports South and Bally Sports Southeast.
As part of this deal, which hopes to save Diamond from bankruptcy, North Carolina sports fans could soon watch pro sports action on Bally Sports via Amazon Prime. An official start date has not been set, and we will find out in the coming weeks if it will begin in time for the launch of North Carolina online sports betting.
The deal is still pending approval from a federal bankruptcy court.
How Amazon’s investment affects North Carolina sports fans
If the deal is approved for Amazon to pump money into DSG and Sinclair, it means North Carolina pro sports fans will continue to be able to watch their teams locally, but with the opportunity to do so on Amazon Prime. No announcement has been made as to whether games on Bally’s networks would eventually only be streamed on Amazon Prime.
Amazon’s investment in RSNs signals a commitment from the online retailer and entertainment company that it wishes to venture even deeper into original programming. As one of the most profitable companies in North America, Amazon has the financial weight to ensure RSN programming will be stable for years to come.
Which NC pro sports teams could be on Amazon Prime and when?
The Hornets and Hurricanes are the only NC sports teams impacted by the deal between Amazon and Diamond Sports Group.
Currently, Charlotte Hornets NBA action is being offered from Bally Sports Southeast via Spectrum Cable and the Fubo streaming app. Bally Sports South features the Carolina Hurricanes. That likely will not change for this NBA and NHL season, but we’d expect Amazon Prime may secure exclusive streaming rights in the future.
The good news for Amazon Prime members in North Carolina is that your existing membership will permit you to watch any future Hornets and Hurricanes games broadcast on the platform. This means you can easily see the Hornets on your smart TV, laptop, or handheld device. That could make it even easier for NC sports bettors to watch games they have betting slips out on.
Details of Amazon’s investment in Diamond Group
Diamond Sports Group (DSG) owns the rights to broadcast games of 37 major professional teams in Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, and the National Hockey League on 18 RSNs.
The company has been struggling to survive financially, facing bankruptcy in Texas. Last season, its RSN in Southern California ceased broadcasting, prompting MLB to assume delivery of San Diego Padres games to fans in the local market. Similarly, MLB had to rescue broadcasts for the Diamondbacks when Bally Sports Arizona failed to meet its obligations.
According to reports, DSG has debt in excess of $8 billion. Sinclair Broadcast Group, the former parent company of DSG, bought 21 RSN’s from Disney in 2019. Those networks were previously known under the Fox Sports regional names. Bally’s bought naming rights from Sinclair but does not own the RSNs, which broadcast 15 NBA , 11 MLB and 11 NHL teams’ games in local markets. In recent years, the RSN broadcast model has suffered as consumers increasingly “cut the cord” from cable arrangements.
This year, the ACC cut its ties with Bally Sports, opting to broadcast a slate of men’s and women’s football and basketball games on the CW network instead.
Image Credit: Karl B DeBlaker / AP Images